Amy Sacko known as the Tina Turner of Mali started her musical career at the age 15 when her father Souaïbou Sacko entered her for a competition for “Young Discoveries from Ségou”. Amy came second with a song called “Mali Denw” – Children of Mali which till today is one of her biggest hits. As a result of entering this competition Amy discovered what it was like to perform in front of an excited audience, and decided to take her singing career more seriously.
Amy was born in Kayes; the capital of the first region in north western Mali which covers the area of Bafoulabé and is the daughter of “griots” - traditional praise singers. Her father, Souaïbou Sacko, sang and played guitar in the early 1970s with Gofé Star, a local band in Kayes, in company with Harouna Barry, (director of the Orchestra Badema National), and Lardjigué Laïco Traoré, a well known promoter of traditional Malian music.
At the age of seven, Amy went to stay in Dakar, Senegal, with her aunt, Fanta Sacko, a noted singer with the Daniel Sorano Group in Dakar, where she taught the young Amy to sing, making her repeat all the songs she herself had sung at the weddings and baptisms they attended frequently.
In 1997 Amy produced her first album (called “Ben” – or African Integration) with the Mali Cassette (K7) company in Bamako. But her fans were not satisfied because she didn’t include Mali Denw among the tracks. This was put right in 2002 with the second album, “Mali Denw” with Ousmane Kida Productions, produced by Mbaye Boubacar Diarra who was also responsible for creating the Malian TV show in the mid nineties known as “Top Etoile” – the equivalent of Top of the Pops. Amy feels this album really launched her career as a recognised Malian artist, and her signature song “Mali Denw” was top of the Malian hit parade for more than 2 months.
Since the Mali Denw album, Amy has travelled extensively, in Europe and in the US and has been admired for her strong voice and its wide range. One of the many highlights was participating in the “Voix des Femmes”, Voices of Women Festival in Belgium in 2002 where Amy so impressed the Azebaïjani singer Alim Qasimov that he invited her to tour with him in the same year. Amy also had the great honour to perform with a host of other artists at the 2001 memorial concert for Malcolm X in the USA.
Amy’s third album “Dakan” was released in Mali in March 2008 and features several other noted artists, including her husband, the ngoni maestro Bassékou Kouyaté, two songs featuring the vocals and guitar of American singer/songwriter Léni Stern, Will Calloum the American drummer, Canadian banjo player Jayme Stone and Cheick Tidiane Seck on the piano. On this album she sings in many styles and languages and is the first Malian artist to sing in Soussou (a language from Guinea - on the track Kanougnon).
With her early experience in a variety of West African musical traditions, Amy is sensitive to many musical genres and this helps her adapt to collaborate with musicians from other backgrounds. At the same time as preparing her third album she has performed as the vocalist of her husband’s group Ngoni ba whose album ‘Segu Blue’ has been awarded the BBC 2008 Album of the Year award. They have toured extensively in 2007 and already have a full programme for 2008, and in addition, Amy continues her own career.
She has enjoyed performing with other internationally known artists, including 2 albums with Leni Stern, the internationally renowned jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater (Amy features on Dee Dee’s Grammy nominated album “Red Earth”) and Danish/Malian bassist Moussa Diallo. Amy has also been responsible for starting the careers of many up and coming young Malian artists such as hip hop musician Penzy Douba which led to their track being at the top of the Malian charts for many weeks demonstrating that Amy’s versatility knows no bounds.
The people who have influenced Amy’s life and her music are first her father who she credits with being her constant adviser on an approach to life based in Islam with its virtues of tolerance and patience and of course her aunt, Fanta Sacko who introduced Amy to music and singing. In addition to touring and big concerts in Mali, she performs regularly at weddings and baptisms.